Amazon & Marketplaces

The Real Benefit of Amazon Reviews

I’m a longtime seller on Amazon’s marketplace. I also mentor many sellers and help brands to improve their marketplace sales. And I belong to various Amazon forums.  The topic of reviews on Amazon frequently comes up. Reviews are a powerful selling tool. The more reviews your product has, the more it will sell.

But there are other benefits to reviews beyond selling a product. By listening to your customers, you can understand problems in your business and begin to correct them.

Constructive criticism is a crucial component to growth. A brand needs to pay attention to the bad reviews just as much as the good ones. Instead of trying to get bad reviews taken down, find the cause of the negative review and fix it.

Bad reviews can help brands improve their products. This 1-star example is for floor mats for a Jeep.

Bad reviews can help brands improve their products. This 1-star example is for floor mats for a Jeep.

Learning from Reviews

This is a crucial component to being successful. The concept is fresh on my mind due to a recent discussion I participated in. A seller was complaining on a forum that his product was getting bad reviews. He claimed that Fulfillment by Amazon was filling his orders with returned and opened products.

But Amazon does not put returned merchandise back into inventory. The only exceptions are in furniture, fashion, and some electronics. Even in those categories, the product must be in the original packaging and unaltered.

The seller who was posting was in the personal care category. Reselling opened personal care items is illegal in the U.S. Amazon does not resell returned personal care items under any circumstances. Nonetheless, other participants in the forum discussion were quick to jump on the Amazon-is-hurting-us train.

It is important to separate business and ego to solve the issue of poor reviews. They are not personal attacks. Instead, reviews are opportunities to see your product from a different perspective and identify weaknesses. Once you do that, you can correct the issues.

I asked the seller why he believes Amazon is selling opened product and how long this was going on. He claimed it had been several months and that he had complained multiple times to Amazon.

Blaming Amazon

The way he was attempting to correct this issue was by repetitively opening cases in Seller Central and blaming Amazon for the negative reviews. While I was consulting him, the seller shared some of these negative reviews with me. The solution to his problems was clear. By reading the reviews without bias, I could identify the problem.

The common complaint in the reviews was that the silver seal on the toothpaste was not on the product when it arrived. The customers said there was also no outer seal or shrink wrap. My advice to the seller was to contact the production facility to determine if it was neglecting to put these seals on the product.

This was when the seller floored me.

“I don’t put those on my products. They will increase the cost. I decided not to use them.”

First, they are required by U.S. law in the beauty and personal care category. It was shocking that Amazon didn’t catch this issue in the inventory check. Second, consumers are accustomed to seeing them. When the seals were not on the product, customers assumed they had been opened.

Rather than noticing this critical error and trying to understand why the customer was unhappy, this seller chose to blame Amazon. In truth, he created the problem by trying to save a few dollars and cut corners.

Build a Brand

What’s the takeaway? Amazon is a marketplace. Amazon allows sellers to join the marketplace and sell to Amazon’s customers. You can build a thriving brand on Amazon. To achieve this, do a few simple things.

  • Understand the business you are in.
  • Understand customers’ expectations of the category.
  • Provide a high-quality product.
  • Build optimized product pages with compelling images that reinforce the quality.
  • Provide excellent customer service.
  • Listen to your reviews and continually improve.

The last item is the most important. To build your brand and be successful on Amazon, listen to the opinions of your customers. Commerce does not exist without customers. The views and reactions of customers should always be the top priority.

Phil Masiello
Phil Masiello
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